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What should I do when asked for a discount for repetitions and working with no CAT tool?
Thread poster: Kate Chaffer

Kate Chaffer
Local time: 16:02
Member (2009)
Italian to English
Jun 3, 2009

I'm still relatively new to translating and I haven't started using any CAT tools yet. An agency has asked me to translate a new manual for a client I have already translated for and, as about 50% of the text is a repetition of the original manual, they want to know what discount I will give for that.
What would you do in situations like this?

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-06-03 13:34 GMT]


Marcela Mestre  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:02
English to Spanish
How To Treat Your Local Supermarket Jun 3, 2009

How To Treat Your Local Supermarket (A Letter to Translator)
by Wilmer Brouwer

Dear owner of my local supermarket,

You are probably really happy to have me as your custormer. Here are some simple rules to keep me as a customer:

Please add everything I buy to my bill
Please send an invoice once a month at the end of the month for everything I buy
I will pay every invoice after 60 days
I will start counting those days at the end of the month in which you send the invoice
I will pay on my payment date, which happens to be the 15th of every month (don’t complain, it could be the 30th!)
I decide what I pay for your products
If I buy the same product twice I will pay only half for the second product
If I buy a lot I decide what reduction you will give
Please also give me an extra reduction because it’s a crisis
I only pay on PayPal
I hope you know how lucky you are that I am still your customer!
Don’t expect me to thank you, you probably know how many supermarkets there are and some of them are a lot cheaper than you! I will let you know if I think of any other rules in the future to keep our cooperation as perfect as possible!

Kind regards,

Your customer

P.S.: I will demand discounts for fuzzies, e.g. white bread/brown bread, as the oven was already warm, there was already someone working on that anyway, so why treat it as two completely separate products and pay full price?
I even encouraged my local supermarket to buy a really expensive extra large oven for baking more bread at the same time so all their customers can claim this reduction. And yes, we do expect them to completely transfer any profit this might bring to us as customers. For some reason my local supermarket didn’t understand that this will be profitable for them too. The main reason is of course that I refuse to buy their bread if they don’t have that oven.


LucyPatterso (X)
Two options Jun 3, 2009

Hi Kate, you could just tell them you do not use CAT tools at the moment so you will not be able to offer a discount ... of course they could just remove the repeated sections themselves and get you to translate the remaining 50%.

However, this might lose you the job. You could try Wordfast - you can try it out for free with a limited TM (which would be enough for one project) and it does not take long to get to grips with.


AWa (X)
Local time: 16:02
English to German
+ ...
Tell them you don't use a CAT tool Jun 3, 2009

and negotiate a reasonable rate for the text that is the same as in the earlier document. After all you can copy and paste that, but it takes more time than just accepting the suggestion made by a CAT tool.


Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:02
English to Dutch
+ ...
Get a CAT tool Jun 3, 2009

Serious, get a CAT tool. Get it now. In one week, you won't believe you ever managed without one. It'll save you soooo much trouble and time.

As to this particular job: You will be able to do this in half the time (since you will be able to pull half of the job out of your translation memory). You could then offer the client a 25% discount and still be 25% on top.

And yes, the idea that agencies want discounts because you bought a CAT tool is not fair, really, but then again, what is in this world. Fact is, most agencies work that way. If you're really, really confident you'll get by without these, go for it. But my advise would be to take this cake and swallow it.

(Just for the record, I by no means advocate we translators swallow EVERYTHING. E.g., I have not lowered my rates 'due to the economic crisis'. And lost none of my clients.)


Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:02
French to English
+ ...
Demo Jun 3, 2009

If you have time, try out the demo version of one or more tools on a dummy text in the next day or so, and become familar with the basic functions. You should be able to use the demo version to translate this job.

You'll need to align the source and target texts of the previous version of the manual in order to create a translation memory that will help you with the current version. I don't know if alignment tools are part of the demo versions of the main tools, but I'm sure you can find out.

As for negotiating with your agency client, perhaps offer a 25% discount, and see what they say? If they know you don't (yet) work with CAT tools, they might be prepared to go with this - though it would depend on what, if anything, they have already offered their client.

This is not one of those occasions in which the TM matches are not useful - you know full well you can simply reuse quite a lot of the content, and a CAT tool is an efficient way to do just this.

[Edited at 2009-06-03 15:07 GMT]


Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:02
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No discounts Jun 3, 2009

This thread is not about CAT tools, but about requested discounts.

With a CAT tool you may get in a glance how many repetitions you have. And so what?

The same word/term may have a different meaning in a different context. And even if it doesn`t, if is for you to decide.

With the first manual you might have built your own glossary on the subject. That is your asset and it might help you translating this new manual.

But you get XXX words to translate, you charge $ZZZ per source words. I think this is a new task. I wouldn`t give any discount based on that.

However, you may lower your rate a bit as a gesture to the client. I mean a 10% discount on the basic rate, for example, if you consider the job AND the client really deserve it, if it is really a good, reliable and old client, if the client complains about the crisis and so on, and if you still think the job is worth it.

I usually give my flat rate, and that is based on total amount of words to be translated. I have never accepted discounts based on any kind of repetitions.


Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:02
Spanish to English
In my opinion Jun 3, 2009

Lower your overall rate by a small amount to show that you are reasonable and tell them this will not be a precedent.


Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:02
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
In what sense is it a repetition? Jun 3, 2009

If you can literally copy and paste large chunks, without doing anything to them, then I guess that you will not invoice them a second time for those same big chunks you translated for them previously?

You do not need a CAT tool in order to copy and paste chunks of text. However, a CAT tool comes into the picture when the chunks have been changed or edited very slightly. If that is the case, I would not recommend taking on the job without having the facilities of a CAT tool. Download a trial version of one from somewhere and try it out.


Kate Chaffer
Local time: 16:02
Member (2009)
Italian to English
Sorted...for now Jun 3, 2009

I can basically copy and paste whole paragraphs from the first manual into the second, maybe changing a word here or there, so for this job I think it would be quicker to do this than try to get to grips with a CAT tool to do the same thing.

My initial posting took 3 hours to be approved and the agency wanted an answer so I asked them straight out how much of a discount they were giving the client. I work a lot with this agency so I believed them when they said 18%. I was actually quite surprised, thinking it would be higher, and I said I would therefore offer an 18% discount on my rates.

What got me thinking was that this agency has sent me many 'repeat' manuals where I've been able to copy and paste but has never asked for any discount. This is their second request in as many days. I refused the first one as the text to copy from was provided by the client and had been horrendously translated, e.g. "Basilar requisits". I presume this is the agency's new way of cutting costs and, while I do intend to start using a CAT tool at some point, I was just wondering what strategy to use in the meantime.


Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:02
French to English
I got Wordfast Jun 3, 2009

Kate C wrote:
What would you do in situations like this?

It was exactly this kind of situation that finally pushed me to get Wordfast.

I had a few insurance policies to translate, all based on the same product with with minor variations in the amount of cover, the countries it applied, etc, plus the odd extra restriction added or removed here and there.

I could have used "compare documents" and copy and paste and whatnot, but frankly it would have made my eyes bleed.

Quite honestly, the aim of the game (in my view) is not to get too hung up on rates and discounts per se, just make sure you get a decent day's pay for a decent day's work.
If you are not going to be able to save any time despite 50% of it being the same, then charge appropriately. If you are going to be able to finish the job off in a day, then charge for a day (dress it up however you like - lower rate; usual rate minus discount; hourly rate, whatever). And so on.icon_smile.gif


Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:02
Member (2004)
English to Italian
sure... Jun 3, 2009

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

You do not need a CAT tool in order to copy and paste chunks of text.

no, you don't, but it will save you a lot of time... and time is money!


Kate Chaffer
Local time: 16:02
Member (2009)
Italian to English
CAT tools Jun 3, 2009

The agency is well aware I don't use a CAT tool. The discount they were asking for is basically a 'copy and paste' discount.


Deborah do Carmo  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:02
Dutch to English
+ ...
Precisely ... Jun 3, 2009

Charlie Bavington wrote:

Quite honestly, the aim of the game (in my view) is not to get too hung up on rates and discounts per se, just make sure you get a decent day's pay for a decent day's work.

Edited to remove original posting since it's now clear that CAT tools were never at issue.

[Edited at 2009-06-03 16:12 GMT]


Per Magnus  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:02
English to Norwegian
Start with a CAT tool – NOW Jun 3, 2009

Kate C wrote:
while I do intend to start using a CAT tool at some point, I was just wondering what strategy to use in the meantime.

I honestly don’t understand how someone can be a serious translator of users’ manuals without a CAT tool. There just are so many similar and repeated segments. Not all products are like this, but I have a customer that needs a new version of the manual every year. There are about 10% changes, but it is spread out all over the document so copy and pasting would give me a lot of extra work with proof reading. I charge him 35% for the job, and he comes back year after year. He also sends me manuals for other products. As my TM grows with his terminology I get more and more free segments, and he is happy with my 10-30% discount.

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